Metaphor, Metonymy and Vioce

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Barbara Johnson’s critique focuses on the metaphoric, metonymic and voice in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. It focuses on the major character, Janie Crawford’s inner and outer change towards her various relationships. She focuses on the strengths, both vocally and physically, gained after her first slap down by her second husband, Joe Starks. Barbara Johnson focuses on the metaphoric meaning of this transformation which was defined as the substitution based on the resemblance or analogy and then she goes on to the metonymic meaning which she defines as the basis of a relation or association other than that similarity. Paul De Man, a deconstructionist literary critic and theorist, provides a brief summary stating the preference for the metaphor over metonymy by aligning analogy with necessity and contiguity with chance. According to him, “’the element of truth’ is the product of a purely rhetorical and ultimately metonymical, sleight of hand, therefore over turning the traditional hierarchy and deconstructing the very basis for the seductiveness and privilege of metaphor.” Barbara Johnson pays keen and strict attention to a specific passage in her critique and she also focuses on its figurative structure. She speaks on Janie’s crucial turning point in relation to Joe and herself. She begins to speak out, defending herself, gaining a “voice” for her inner self. These scenes put Janie to think about the inside state of her marriage. Janie was not about to be completely submissive to Joe without her voice being heard. Gradually, Janie “pressed her teeth together” and learnt to hush and the spirit of a happy ending marriage left the bedroom and moved to the parlor. Johnson stated that “the bed was no longer a daisy-field for her and Joe to play in but it was now transformed into a place where she went and laid down when she was sleepy and tired.” The relationship had suddenly adapted a change as Janie gained a “voice”. It took a shattered image of...
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